IntelliFix app runs well'when it runs

IntelliFix app runs well'when it runs

By John McCormick

Special to GCN

Year 2000 fix-it packages abound for PCs, but none of them seems to work on every PC.

IntelliFix 2000 from Intelliquis International Inc. is no exception, but it does have some good points.

The software runs from a floppy disk, checks the real-time clock and the BIOS chip's ability to roll over to Jan. 1, then applies six leap year tests and even installs a software fix for most PCs.

The basic suite of tests and repair utilities covers PC hardware, and looks for and checks MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows and Windows NT. The professional version adds utilities for Microsoft Office 97. A deluxe version can make hardware clock fixes.

IntelliFix 2000 also tests and attempts to fix a wide range of application files, including those from custom programs.

According to the documentation, IntelliFix 2000 fixes hardware date problems by installing a small boot-level utility program that intercepts any hardware date requests.

The program automatically corrects the date seen by your software, neatly eliminating any need for you to buy a soldering iron and anti-static wrist strap to change your BIOS or RTC.

I had mixed results with the software. But when it worked, it worked well. By sheer good luck, it worked wonderfully well on the first PC I used it on. Later tests on older PCs were disappointing, however.

On a 66-MHz Compaq Deskpro XL 566 Pentium, the tests ran fine, but the software made no attempt to install a software fix, and the test screen displayed garbage images where there should have been control buttons.

I sent an e-mail to the company's technical center questioning this and got back a response a few hours later. That was a pretty quick turnaround.

Unfortunately, the tech rep just told me that I should buy the program if I wanted to do more than test the computer.

Box Score ''''''''

IntelliFix 2000 Pro

Year 2000 PC testing tool

Intelliquis International Inc.; Draper, Utah; tel. 801-990-2600

Price: $50 for the basic version, $80 for the professional version, $110
for the deluxe version with hardware clock fix

+Good hardware date rollover tests

+Easy software fix for most PCs

+Good test and reporting of potential file problems

'Must buy separate modules to fix Office code

'Did not install software fix on Compaq XL 566 Deskpro

'Did not boot on old 486 notebook

Real-life requirements:

8M of RAM, 10M of hard drive space, a 3.5-inch floppy drive and a CD-ROM drive, and Windows

Never assume

Apparently he assumed'without justification'that I had downloaded a free trial version that does testing but makes no repairs. I had a new shrink-wrapped copy of the software. So the fast response was gratifying but useless.

After the program failed on the Deskpro, I tried running it on an old 486 notebook. IntelliFix tested and reported problems with the BIOS, then installed the software fix, tested it and reported everything fixed.

But it didn't boot from the program disk as it was supposed to. It locked up when the boot test was attempted, reporting a drive failure of the same drive that earlier read the diskette just fine. Ignoring the documentation, I was able to run the tests by starting ifix2000.exe directly from the a: drive and the fixes installed without a hitch.

At first I liked IntelliFix, but the more I used it the less enthusiastic I became because of the problems I experienced trying to use it on old equipment'equipment that likely would need date code fixes.

As to the Windows utility, the suite tests a variety of files, including those in your operating system. It tests code at the assembly language level and is supposed to repair most of the problems it encounters.

The documentation said the package makes repairs by changing the default century from the usual 1900-1999 to 1951-2049. Your software still sees a two-digit date, but that is no longer a problem. Although the technical explanation in the documentation is lacking, IntelliFix seems to work.

The addition in the Pro version is the Data Scan tool, which tests worksheet and database files.

Although the tests work on most data files, the utility's fixes to templates, worksheets and macros work only on Office 97 and Lotus 1-2-3 97.

If you just want to test your clock, try the free download. Then, if you need to make a fix, you can buy the package.

The software date fix doesn't work on all computers although it did on most of the PCs I tested. For the others, you can get an ISA card from Intelliquis.

Although upgrading the BIOS chip can be a difficult and risky way to fix your PC, adding the Intelliquis RTC card fix should be an easy and cost-effective alternative where the software fix won't work.

The company even offers a guarantee: They promise to refund the cost of the IntelliFix program if your computer's complementary metal-oxide semiconductor clock doesn't roll over correctly at midnight on Dec. 31.

It's not much, but it's a better guarantee than many companies give these days.

Check 'em out

Here's a final warning: Several fairly new PCs I tested failed CMOS readiness tests, so even if your office bought new PCs to avoid date code problems you should test the hardware. IntelliFix ought to have no problems on new computers and, in most instances, will install an easy fix.

My bottom line on this package is that I liked the hardware tests as well as the software fixes'when the software installed properly.

But the documentation isn't helpful unless everything works exactly right, and in my experience this seldom happened with older systems.

This is really not a package for novice users. But novices should not be testing for 2000 readiness or making repairs to their office PCs.

John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with computers since the early 1960s. E-mail him at [email protected].


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